House Committee on Natural Resources investigating allegations of corruption at Puerto Rico Power Utility

Published on March 14, 2018 by Kevin Randolph

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Representatives sent a letter Monday to the Interim Executive Director of the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA) regarding recent allegations of corruption and mismanagement of power restoration operations on the island.

Committee on Natural Resources Chair Rob Bishop (R-UT), Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR), and Subcommittee on Indian, Insular and Alaska Native Affairs Chair Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) sent the letter.

Many of the reports of alleged corruption involved reports of PREPA officials accepting or demanding bribes to restore power to residences and businesses.

According to one allegation, PREPA officials took payments to restore power to exotic dance clubs in San Juan ahead of the scheduled restoration timeline and restored power to their own homes and other areas before critical locations such as San Juan’s Rio Piedras Medical Center.

The letter requested various documents and information from PREPA to assist with committee oversight of power restoration efforts on the island.

“The latest allegations of corruption and mismanagement raise serious questions regarding PREPA’s internal controls and ability to competently manage power restoration in Puerto Rico,” the congressmen said in the letter. “Billions of taxpayer dollars are pledged to help Puerto Rico, but a lack of faith in Puerto Rico’s institutions remains a major barrier to recovery.”

As of March 7, approximately 155,695 people in Puerto Rico are still without power following Hurricanes Maria and Irma.